Re: Poll: Would you consider aikido without a physical practice component to still be
Earlier, mention was made of Zen and its reliance on Zen practice, etc. Having done Zen practice, I can understand where one might be coming from when they want to point out the difference between actually engaging in the trials and/or ordeals (for example) of that practice and just reading about its philosophy in an Alan Watts book. Thus, I can understand how one might want to do the same here with Aikido practice. However, in Zen, in the Zen tradition, their are huge parts (huge because of their impact) of the discourse that uplift, admire, and place more value on the person that has no zen training but that has enlightenment. These folks, in fact, are not the ones seen as living in the "spirit of zen." They are Zen. In fact, the one's labeled with that kind of reducing descriptive are the one's in the temple, folks that have a practice but that show no real understanding. In these cases, these uplifted folks are used in the discourse to alert one to the obvious fact that the small self is more than likely to get stuck on the grossness of the practice itself, hiding its ego there, and in the end, as they say, "missing all of the heavenly glory for being stuck on the finger that points to the moon."
I am making no judgments here, but traditions the world over have always held that for the unenlightened there are many types of enlightenments; for the enlightened, there is only one. One of the reasons why this has been the case, as I said above, is that we as practitioners get our ego caught up in our own practice, where the practice actually comes to reinforce the small self rather than to purify it. For example, look at how we might want recognition for our trials and ordeals, for our small victories and hardships, etc., look how we contain in our efforts a strong sense of "defending" our art from what we want to call "impostors," etc. Look at our efforts to function within dualisms and to judge ourselves and others in terms of dichotomy. These things are all of ego, as they always are. As such, from this point of view, these things are not of Aikido, as the practitioner who practices them is not.
For me, when folks come in having read all about Aikido, or even when they come from other dojo, having practice what from our point of view is an Aikido lacking martial sense, I look to be able to see them as Aikido practitioners - not as non-Aikido practitioners. I look to be able to say to them, "Keep what you know and feel, let us continue to develop it here." Whenever I do this, I never feel threatened or that I am in need to protect something. I feel we are all on a Way, trying our best, making our mistakes and breakthroughs. Nothing is ever lost when I take this risk, when I understand it as no risk at all.